Friday, January 19, 2018

Lynette Eason's "Oath of Honor" - like a complex cop show

Oath of Honor (Blue Justice #1)When police officer Isabelle St. John's partner and childhood friend is killed, she dives head-first into finding his murderer. Ryan Marshall was already grieving the loss of his older brother, but now to lose his younger one too is a stunning blow. He's just as determined as Izzy to find Kevin's killer, but as the two dig into the case that has clear mob ties and possibly cops on the payroll, they discover it's possible that someone in Izzy's own family--a family of cops--has a connection to the killer.

As I've come to expect from Lynette Eason, the story was non-stop action from beginning to end. It has a very complex plot, but it works. I especially liked that it's family-oriented (I've heard the story likened to Blue Bloods, and I'd say that's accurate, given my minimal experience with the show), with a lot of family connections in law enforcement and related service-oriented fields. I'm glad that the romance takes a back seat to the action, since the characters are dealing with a lot--grief, attempts on their life, suspicion of their own. It's there--just tastefully quiet and slowly growing.

I really liked that though Izzy and Ryan are chomping at the bit to catch his brother's killer, they do it by the book: they don't take an official and active part in the investigation, they don't touch evidence or interrogate witnesses, and they let their fellow officers do their jobs. Yes, they find ways to help and keep the plot rolling, but they play it smart so the criminals cannot walk on a technicality. I really appreciate that, when so many mystery novels are solved by characters who seem to exist outside the rules.

Anyone who enjoys a good cop show should pick up this book--it's a great example of the genre!

Thank you Revell and NetGalley for the free E-book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Blue Justice
1. Oath of Honor
2. Called to Protect (August 2018)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Susan May Warren's "Troubled Waters"

Troubled Waters (Montana Rescue #4)Someday Sierra Rose will get over her former employer Ian Shaw. Hopefully. But when an accident destroys PEAK's rescue helicopter, Ian offers Sierra his yacht for a fundraising junket in the Caribbean. But the three-day cruise turns into disaster, sending PEAK to the Caribbean to rescue them.

Sierra and Ian finally get their story--the one I've been waiting for since the novella prequel. Just as their relationship has been so far, it's pretty turbulent. If only stubborn people weren't quite so unbending--then maybe they'd actually talk and work out their issues BEFORE a life-and-death situation. But better late than never. Of course, there's also Jess and Pete, who suffer some similar troubles to Sierra and Ian.

If the relationships seem turbulent, it's nothing compared to the physical plot. There's a lot of action and adventure in this story--from being trapped in a wildfire to being trapped on a desert island. The pace flies, making for a quick and exciting read.

Oddly, we've just been discussing some of the themes in this book in my bible study. Just when one starts thinking one is capable of accomplishing anything and everything by one's own power, something happens to remind one of how NOT in control and how in need of a savior we truly are. It's hard enough for us who are regularly reminded of our weaknesses, but for one like Ian Shaw--who is always in control--it can be devastating when that moment comes. But that's when we rely on God most, when we are at our weakest.

Thank you Revell and NetGalley for the free E-book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Montana Rescue
1. Wild Montana Skies
2. Rescue Me
3. A Matter of Trust
4. Troubled Waters
5. Storm Front (May 2018)

Friday, January 12, 2018

"The Lacemaker" by Laura Frantz - a beautiful story

The LacemakerWhen her father flees Williamsburg in the night and her fiance abandons her right before their wedding, Elisabeth Lawson is left to fend for herself. Noble Rynalt, a patriot and Burgess, has often been left to tidy his wastrel cousin's messes, and he takes compassion on his cousin's jilted fiancee, though her political leanings are questionable. Elisabeth is unwilling to impose for long, however, and she sets up shop as a seamstress and lacemaker. As sides are declared throughout the city, Elisabeth must decide what her role in the upcoming conflict will be--and if she can handle the consequences of her choice.

I love Laura Frantz's take on the Revolutionary War, whichever aspect of it she is focusing on. While I've read numerous novels about the war, I don't think I've read a thing about Williamsburg since reading the American Girl (Felicity) books as a child. It was fascinating to see the changeover from Tory to Patriot during the build-up toward war, to see some of the good and bad of both sides. I also love the period details the author is so deft at weaving into the story, and her talents at adding flavor with dialects (Welsh in this case!).

The characters are easy to love and the romance is lovely. There is a lot of action that happens near the end, and I would have liked it drawn out a bit more--rushed as it was, it lacked the emotional punch of some of the author's other novels. But it is nevertheless a beautiful story (as lovely as the cover), and fits in wonderfully with her other colonial novels.

Thank you, Revell, for providing a free book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Related novels:
A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green (the heroines of each share familial ties as well as profession)

Monday, January 8, 2018

Most Anticipated Books of 2018!

New Christian fiction titles for 2018 have already been released (leastwise through summer), and already I have quite the list I'm looking forward to. Most of these authors are tried and true favorites of mine, but I'm pleased to have found a couple new ones in the last year. (Fall titles will be added as they come available)


January: The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz (Revell)--apparently bears connections to Jocelyn Green's February release, A Refuge Assured

January: A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House); Shadows Over England, book 2

February: A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green (Bethany House)--has connections to Laura Frantz's The Lacemaker

The Sea Before Us (Sunrise at Normandy, #1) The Lost Castle Sons of Blackbird Mountain
February: The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin (Revell); Sunrise at Normandy, book 1

February: The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson)

June: Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof (Thomas Nelson)

A Noble Masquerade More Than Meets the Eye 
June: A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House); Haven Manor, book 1

June: More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House)

July: A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano (Revell)

Caught by Surprise (Apart From the Crowd #3)
August: Caught by Surprise by Jen Turano (Bethany House); Apart from the Crowd, book 3

Fall: An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House); Shadows Over England book 3

December: Regina Jennings's next novel in the Fort Reno series!

Contemporary Romance:
 Dead Drift (Chesapeake Valor, #4) 
May: Falling for You by Becky Wade (Bethany House); Bradford Sisters, book 2

July: Dead Drift by Dani Pettrey (Bethany House); Chesapeake Valor, book 4

Friday, January 5, 2018

Cathy Gohlke's "Until We Find Home"

Until We Find HomeAspiring novelist Claire Stewart has been working with the French Resistance, but she inadvertently ends up on Britain's shores with five Jewish children in her care. We nowhere else to turn, she seeks out her estranged aunt in the Lakes District, and is granted a place to stay--if she stays to personally care for the children. Claire knows nothing of children, and all she wants is to return to France and her love, but it's looking like she's stuck in Britain for the duration of the war. As her aunt is forced to accept more refugees and other boarders in her spacious, home, will they all learn to work together and share the love they have?

The story made me think of Mrs. Miniver, taking place on the British homefront and dealing with the dangers there--air raids, escaped POWs, prejudice. It hadn't occurred to me that the English would resent the foreign children taking refuge on their shore, but antisemitism was widespread, not just in Germany, and certainly not limited to adults. Nor did it occur to me that many would resent all Americans for the USA's neutral stance early in the war--even the Americans who were actually helping them. But I can also see many of the prejudicial attitudes in the story reflected today here in America, but with refugees of Muslim nations and Mexican families trying to find a better life. We can only hope that like Claire and her family, we learn to love and respect them, not fear and dismiss them.

I had trouble liking Claire for a long time. She's rather self-centered and incompetent (regarding most skills necessary for her situation--dealing with children, cooking, making friends). Granted, it was also frustrating that people constantly scold her about her faults, rather than help her. If no one shows her a better way, how can they expect her to improve? She does come a long way through the story, learning how to love and be loved, and her companions also learn more grace.

I appreciated how the children and adults in the story were able to help each other, though I think the adults [surprisingly] had a harder time helping the kids than vice versa. But in the growing process, I loved that they call in a Rabbi to educate the children; it shows a growing respect for their charges. I also enjoyed the myriad of literary references in this story, and they aren't the usual ones--here we have Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, Beatrix Potter, CS Lewis, and more. As always with a Cathy Gohlke novel, this is full of not only detailed history, but many things to ponder on, some of which hit pretty close to home.

Thank you Tyndale and NetGalley for providing a free e-book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

Other WWII novels by Cathy Gohlke:
Saving Amelie
Secrets She Kept

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Christian Fiction releases January 2018!

The new year is opening with a great selection of books, from historical to suspense to a novella collection.

The Lacemaker A Song Unheard (Shadows Over England, #2) Until We Find Home
The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz (Revell)

A Virginia Belle, abandoned by her fiance, is suspected of being being a spy for the British--but which side will choose?

A Song Unheard by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House); Shadows Over England, book 2

Both a professional thief and brilliant musician, a young woman is hired by the government to steal a cipher from a famous violinist.

Until We Find Home by Cathy Gohlke (Tyndale)

At the start of WWII, a novelist intends to join the French resistance but ends up out of her depth on England's shores with five Jewish children

Hearts Entwined: A Historical Romance Novella Collection Troubled Waters (Montana Rescue #4) Oath of Honor (Blue Justice #1)
Hearts Entwined: A Historical Romance Novella Collection by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears (Bethany House)

Four authors join together to write four historical novellas about the twisting and turning--but often humorous--road to love.

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren (Revell); Montana Rescue, book 4

A three-day fundraising cruise turns into a nightmare when a storm lands them stranded on a deserted island.

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason (Revell); Blue Justice, book 1

When her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her life, a police officer goes up against a criminal organization to get justice--but will it mean arresting her own family?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christian Fiction Favorites of 2017!

Here are my favorite Christian fiction releases of 2017, In order of time period:
An Inconvenient Beauty (Hawthorne House, #4) Lady Jayne Disappears Holding the Fort (Fort Reno #1)
An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter (Bethany House); Hawthorne House, book 4. Both funny and poignant, the book is another marvelous regency era tale.

Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano (Revell). A different sort of tale than usual, mysterious, with hints of Dickens and a different period of British history than we generally see (1860's).

Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings (Bethany House); Fort Reno, book 1. Delightfully sweet and funny, while taking place in one of America's historical frontier forts (1880's).
Out of the Ordinary (Apart From the Crowd #2) Heart on the Line (Ladies of Harper’s Station, #2) A Dangerous Legacy (Empire State, #1)
Out of the Ordinary by Jen Turano (Bethany House); Apart from the Crowd, book 2. I laughed so hard when I read this book. I always think Jen Turano is funny, but this might be the funniest yet. (1880's)

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House); Ladies of Harper's Station, book 2. The geeky telegrapher saves the saves the day (and wins the girl)! Sweet, funny, and a delight to read. (1890's)

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden (Bethany House); Empire State, book 1. Smart characters who make the most of their intelligence! Not to mention, the story is clever and suspenseful, with some wonderfully unexpected turns. (1900's)
A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England, #1) The Illusionist's Apprentice When Tides Turn (Waves of Freedom, #3)
A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White (Bethany House); Shadows Over England, book 1. A thief who hates books is forced to masquerade as a librarian for the job--what could be more fun? (WWI)

The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron (Thomas Nelson). A spectacular jazz-age mystery where so little is precisely how it it appears. (1920's)

When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin (Revell); Waves of Freedom, book 3. I love the author's attention to WWII history, but this is one of my favorites yet for wonderful characters and intriguing plot.

True to You (Bradford Sisters Romance, #1) The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck
True to You by Becky Wade (Bethany House); Bradford Sisters Romance, book 1. Sweet, funny, and poignant. With a much bigger--and harder--problem to overcome than I ever would have guessed.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner (Revell). About an erotic romance writer who meets Jesus and falls in love with her pastor; it was incredibly funny, but also rather pointed and sadly true about aspects of church life.